Monday, March 29, 2010

Julie and Julia and Meat

I recently finished reading Julie and Julia. I enjoyed it quite a bit! It made me want to cook more. Not cook French food. But just be more adventurous with my cooking.

Also, this reminds me that I want to add it to my Netflix queue.....
......Ok, I'm back from adding it to Netflix. Thanks for being patient.

Anyway, my main problem with the book was the graphic descriptions of some of the meats she cooked. Most of the time it wasn't a huge problem. But one day I was reading while eating lunch. That was a problem. I was reading the section about splitting open a live lobster. And I seriously almost lost my lunch.

Yes, I am a vegetarian; but normally meat doesn't make my squeamish. The idea of putting it in my mouth grosses me out. But the other people eating it doesn't bother me. Cooking it doesn't bother me. I will mush my fingers in the ground beef to make meatloaf with the best of them. I think because I don't eat it, it doesn't gross me out. But definitely some part of this book did. And I honestly think that if I wasn't a vegetarian, I would be one after reading it!

Oh yeah, and recently Adam ate a lamb shank which I didn't think would bother me. But it looked like this...

...and it creeped me out a little. But then when he was done and just the little leg bone was on his plate I kind of freaked out and wanted him to get it I can't even look at that picture.


So anyway....this isn't so much about Julie and Julia anymore except I really liked it. It was different. But it was interesting and I can't wait to see the movie!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rosemary Chicken and Cranberry Pecan Wild Rice

I had a total dinner success on Monday night!

First, I decided to make Jessica's Rosemary-Garlic Chicken recipe. I wanted something to go with it, so I searched for a cranberry rice recipe (don't ask where I got that idea from) and found one here.

They both turned out as huge success. The only downside was the rice recipe took FOR-EV-ER! Good thing I am on spring break. Oh, and it made A TON. Leftovers anyone?

Rosemary-Garlic Chicken:

4 boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar is another option)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. Using a rolling pin pound the chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of wax paper until they are of uniform thickness.
2. Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers and the garlic browns. (Don’t burn the garlic.) Add the chicken breasts and cook until golden, 3 to 5 minutes on each side.
3. Add the salt, pepper, vinegar, chicken broth, and rosemary. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 3 minutes longer or until the chicken is fork-tender. Remove the chicken to a platter and keep warm.
4. Increase heat to high and boil the sauce until thickened or syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter and pour the sauce over the chicken.

My notes:
-Adam says this was really good and he would like me to make it again. I have to trust his judgement!
-I used red wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar
-I used fresh rosemary (and my slap chop was awesome for cutting it!)

Cranberry Pecan Wild Rice

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
2 lg. celery ribs, finely chopped
2 c. wild rice, well rinsed
5 c. homemade turkey stock or 5 c. canned chicken broth
1 tsp. each salt, dried thyme
1/2 tsp. each freshly ground pepper, savory
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1 c. dried cranberries

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add wild rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock, salt, thyme and pepper. Heat to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until rice is tender but pleasantly chewy, about 45 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. (Drain the wild rice of excess cooking liquid, if necessary.) Add the wild rice mixture and the toasted pecans to the cranberries. Toss to mix well. Use as a turkey stuffing or bake separately.

To bake separately, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place in a buttered 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Bake, covered, until heated through, 30-40 minutes.

My notes:
-Apparently I didn't add the "savory" seasoning because I didn't notice it until I was done with the recipe. was fine without it.
-I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
-I baked it in the oven (obviously)...I didn't stuff it in a turkey.
-It made a ton. I would probably try to halve it in the future.
-I seriously loved this. I think the cranberries add a really good texture and flavor to the rice. Adam really liked it too...however, he picked out the cranberries. I just don't understand!

I also sauteed some spinach with garlic and olive oil and added some balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese over the top. Adam's plate is below with his "no thank you" portion of spinach. My plate had more and it was yummy!

I really would like to cook more, but it is so time consuming to pick a recipe, shop for all the ingredients, and then actually do the cooking. Between every step I was trying to get some homework done. Maybe it will be easier when I no longer have homework to do. It just adds a level of stress hanging over my head all the time. But seeing recipes posted on blogs definitely gives me a kick start because A. I can see a picture of it and B. I can read someone's first hand experience about it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Poetry-Part 2

I got my graded poetry "explication" back today. Remember that one? The one that I was dreading so much? And I tried to find help online? And I couldn't? And it was a really really sad? And I don't like poetry? Remember that?

Well...apparently I rock.

I got an A.

And I love to get A's.

I guess my only mistake is that I said one of the themes was the word "sweep" and a word can't be a theme. I guess I didn't really mean to say that. I meant to say the "sweeping" of the grief was a theme. But apparently that wasn't enough to knock me down.

Because I still rocked it.

Wedding Countdown Surprises Part 2

I am very late posting about the adorable gifts that Kristin has sent me the last few months as a countdown to our wedding. I posted about it last here. She is so thoughtful and every little gift makes me smile for days.

The first picture is of an adorable engagement ornament that is all sparkly! It has the date we got engaged on the back. It is not a great picture because I was trying to take it inside but couldn't use the flash because it reflected the glitteriness too much! The second one is of a makeup bag that says "bride" and "Mr." and "Mrs." luggage tags! I can't believe we are going to be Mr. and Mrs. so soon!

This one is very thoughtful and special. It is a handkerchief that is supposed to be used on a baby's baptism and then kept for when they get married. But Kristin thought it could be used in reverse and use it on our wedding day and then on our first baby's baptism. What a sweet idea.

I am SO excited about the notecards on the left. I LOVE personalized....really anything. But they are cute notecards with our (soon to be) last name on them. She also got us a return address stamp with the first letter of our new last name and the address (well obviously it has the IS a return address stamp...duh Stephanie).

This month's surprise was a set of H bookmarks. This of course is my favorite one because it is black and white (it was being used in Julie and Julia but now it is in The Great Gatsby). They are really neat because they are magnets and just clip over the top of the page.

Thank you Kristin! It is such a fun surprise every month. Thank you for being so thoughtful.
(Note: I am missing a gift...but I seem to have misplaced the picture. So please don't count.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Save the Date (not STD)

Do you ever wish that Save the Date cards had a better acronym?

I sure did when we were working on them.

Just sayin'....

These went out already, but I realized I never posted about them!

Here is a picture of one of our Save the Dates. I totally love how they turned out. I did, however, want to shoot myself during the making of them. I posted back in September about making them and now I think it was totally worth it! Thank goodness for awesome family.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pre-Cana Recap

So about 3 weeks ago I posted about getting ready for our Pre-Cana class (learning how to get married in the Catholic Church). But then I never followed up. So I figured I better do that.

The overall class was pretty interesting. It didn't focus on the Catholic religion or really religion in general very much. It was very focused on the relationship of the couple. I think it would be a very beneficial class for anyone getting married.

We had a pretty large group with us. There were probably about 70 people in the room. We had 2 other couples at our table and that was a nice group to chat with. The leaders were a really nice married couple and they were very realistic about life and marriage.

The format was:
-Introduce top
-Individually write about the topic/Answer questions about the topic
-Get together with your partner and discuss it knee to knee
-Discuss at your small group table
-One person from the table share with the group
-The leaders recapped the topic

-Discussing topics that hadn't come up before in our relationship
-Spending the day together
-There wasn't anything uncomfortable at all
-Small group discussion was interesting

-The large group was too large (having one person from every table report got a little redundant after a while)

Interesting Topics:
-Who are the three most significant people in your life and why?
-What are three of the most significant events and why?
-Listing the top 3 "ingredients" needed in a marriage (not love, that one is obvious)
-What strengthens your communication? What injures it?
*Who will be primarily responsible for the management of finances?
*Agreed to save regular amounts of money from each paycheck?
*Discussed life and health insurance?
*Exchanged info about debts and assets?
*Amount of money that one can spend without consulting the other?
*This one was very interesting at our table! We had discussed it before though so we were golden!
-Division of housework/childcare (including what it was like for each person growing up)
-Goals for the individual and the couple
-Expression of affection and intimacy as a couple
*And this wasn't creepy or uncomfortable at all. And they only touched on Birth Control a little bit and said if there are any questions about Natural Family Planning just come talk to them, otherwise you can read about it in the book.
-Having children (moving past if, when and how many)
*How will you make sure to continue strengthening your relationship with children?
*How will it change your relationship?
*If infertility arises have you talked about what you would be willing to try?
*What will your marriage look like after your children have grown?

Other activities:
-There was a page of about 200 adjectives and you had to pick which ones your felt described you and which ones you felt described your partner.
-At the end we wrote a "letter" to one another about the strongest feelings we have about our upcoming marriage. It was really really neat to read those. I have heard of other people in Pre-Cana writing letters to each other that are mailed to them on their first anniversary. That would be even cooler!

Like I said, overall, I found it very interesting and it definitely spurred some interesting conversations as a couple. I think a class like this would be beneficial for anyone getting married to make sure these topics of conversation have come up.

Please excuse my shiny face and Adam's unhappy one. It was a long day!

This was the knee to knee position we sat in when sharing with each other

Thanks for those of you who shared about your Pre-Cana class on my last post. It seems that most people have found it pretty informative and interesting. Score one for the Catholic Church!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cake Inspiration

Less than 4 months to our wedding????? (3 months and 20 days according to my counter!)


I cannot believe how fast it is coming.

Less than 4 months???

We have all the "big" things decided and booked. But now all of the little details need to be completed.

We did our tasting a few weeks ago and picked out the insides of our cake. But now we need to pick out the outside! I found a ton of black and white wedding cake ideas on the Internet.

Oh, Internet. How would I ever plan a wedding without thee???

This is my wedding cake inspiration board. I think we will take a few ideas and put them together to come up with our final decision. But really....I would love any of these!

What do you think??

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I am procrastinating because I am supposed to be working on school work. My current class is a stupid gen ed class I need to finish my Early Childhood Certificate. I have completed all of the relevant coursework, done a practicum, and passed my certification tests. My school, however, doesn't believe my Bachelor's Degree was good enough and I needed 9 upper division English credits, 9 lower division English credits, and 6 lower division History credits. I am on my 3rd English class and then I take the CLEP to pass out of the lower division English and History. I should be done by June. I hate doing stuff that I think is stupid. And I think these gen ed classes are stupid.

I am supposed to be analyzing a poem and then writing an explication about it. I don't really like poetry. And I have no desire to guess what the author of the poem meant by the words.

So I am crabby about it! I just want to finish this so I can complete my certificate and have more of a chance of having a job next year.

Here is the poem.

The Dead Baby

Sweep the house
under the feet of the curious
holiday seekers--
sweep under the table and the bed
the baby is dead--

The mother's eyes where she sits
by the window, unconsoled--
have purple bags under them
the father--
tall, wellspoken, pitiful
is the abler of these two--

Sweep the house clean
here is one who has gone up
(though problematically)
to heaven, blindly
by force of the facts--
a clean sweep
is one way of expressing it--

Hurry up! any minute
they will be bringing it
from the hospital--
a white model of our lives
a curiosity
surrounded by fresh flowers

1927, 1925
The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Fifth Edition, Vol. 2

I really wish I was better at doing things I think are stupid. But I am not. So I need to get back to work!

Updates on the House

So I thought it was about time for a house update!

The countdown to our wedding day is the same as the countdown to the house needing to be finished day. Well....we decided yesterday that the house should really be finished by July 9 since we will be a little busy July 10. (Yes, there will be a lot to do after that, but we want most major projects completed).

A few weekends ago Adam rented an orbital sander to try out sanding the floors. We have over 2,200 square feet of hardwood to sand. Some are in pretty good shape and some are in terrible shape. The sander didn't prove to be as successful as hoped. Because the floors are so old, they are really uneven in some spots. The sander didn't get those spots. Using a hand held orbital sander worked OK on those spots, but it would be impossible to go over all that square footage with a hand sander!

The next step is to rent a drum sander which scares the beejeebers out of me. Using an orbital sander, just sands the top off like you would expect. Using a drum sander takes off the top 1/4 inch as you pull it along. The problem? If you so much as sneeze you gouge out your floors. Ah! It scares me!

Adam trying out the sander in our future closet.

You can kind of see where it is sanded and where it is not.

The finished product after using the sander (you can see all the missed spots)
Even if we are at a bit of a standstill until we figure out exactly what to do, it is still really exciting to see any progress made.

In other exciting news this week.....our vanity came in!!! If you remember, it was quite the ordeal to pick our a bathroom vanity. But we got the call and our vanity was in so Adam went to pick it up on Sunday with his dad.

Seriously. I don't think I could be any happier. And we got the vanity and the countertop for an amazing price. We thought we would have to give in on color or price and we didn't have to with either part of it. I am so excited about the color of the vanity and also with how they look together. I can't wait to get this bathroom going!

There you have it!

The other thing we did this week was pick out tile for the hallway bathroom upstairs. We just need to go back and buy it this week. Once that gets put in and we get a fully functioning bathroom upstairs in the hallway, we can work on the downstairs bathroom that I started demolishing. But we haven't really been able to finish that until we had a working bathroom upstairs!

Anyone with any experience sanding hardwood floors....please share!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Ugliest Cake in the World

A couple weeks ago was my mom's birthday and I decided to make her German Chocolate Cake because it is her very favorite. The problem was that she can't eat nuts and coconut right I had to make the frosting without nuts or coconut....and that didn't turn out so successfully.

In fact....

I made what had to be officially "The Ugliest Cake in the World".

As you can see the top layer cracked in half.
Never a good sign.
Also the sides of the cake are all fishnagled.
Normally this could all be covered up by frosting and no one would be the wiser.
But not with my coconut/nut free frosting. Oh no. It left all the terrible flaws out in plain site.
The one saving grace? It was absolutely delicious!

Friday, March 05, 2010

I won!

A while back I entered a giveaway on Fantabulously Frugal's blog for personalized notecards from Pose Prints because I LOVE personalized stationary and I won! I was able to pick out any design from Pose Prints' website and design my "pose". I picked out these adorable black and white ones (I know....I know....I'm obsessed with everything black and white) and they came in the mail this week! I decided not to have anything written on them, so I could use them for a variety of purposes. Oh yeah...I got 20 of them!

Aren't they so cute? And doesn't that look exactly like me? Well...kinda? I have long hair. And blue eyes. I guess that is where the resemblance stops. But it was the closest I could get!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Going to Church

Last night at "Adam Wants to be Catholic Class" otherwise known an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiative for Adults) we had a very interesting discussion on Reconciliation. This led to a discussion on Catholic teachings about sin (both mortal and venial). Your venial, everyday lesser sins, are forgiven when you go to Mass on Sunday. Mortal sins must be forgiven through confession. Also, if you have committed a Mortal sin, you technically aren't supposed to take communion until you have confessed your sin to a priest. We got into the topic of Mortal sins and learned that technically missing Mass (for no good reason, not hospitalization or work or something where you really couldn't go all weekend) is a Mortal sin. In that case anyone who misses Mass one weekend should go to confession! Obviously that doesn't happen. The line for the confessional would be out the door. And I don't believe we really want to make it that scary for people.

We are trying to welcome Catholics home* and not force them to go to confession first. However, it does bring up a good point: Why aren't people attending Mass anymore? And why don't they think it is important? We got on the topic of this and spent quite a bit of time discussing it. It seems that so many people so easily say "I am too busy", "I have a relationship with God, I don't need to go to church for Him to know", "It is my only morning to sleep." I am not going to say that I am perfect, but in recent years, I have really made a concerted effort to attend Mass every weekend. Last weekend we even went Saturday night (not our regular Mass) so we could sleep in on Sunday morning because we were going downtown for the Rite of Election (not a Mass with communion so it doesn't count). Not that I don't love me some sleep! Trust me! I LOVE sleep! However, what is going to make more of a difference in my life? Sleeping in an extra hour one Sunday? Or having a relationship with God?

Throughout our discussion last night, we talked about these reasons people give for not going to church and how to answer those reasons with the importance of attending. Not because "The Catholic church says". Because you get into these rules and then the response is "I don't need to go to church just because they tell me it is a sin not to go". Which I agree with. I don't go to church because I am supposed to. I go because I receive nourishment and fulfilment out of it. I go because the people there are part of my family and I can't imagine not gathering with them to celebrate every Sunday. I go because it gives me something I can't get anywhere else.

But why do we have to go to church to have a relationship with God? It is a typically Protestant idea that "my relationship is between me and God" (not that it is bad, just where that idea stems from). Catholics believe that the community is just as important. It is not just me and God. It is our Church, our community together glorifying God and His Son every week. Someone last night likened it to coals: When you are cooking, all the coals together on the grill stay warm together and feed each other to remain strong enough to cook the meal. One coal on its own will not cook a meal and does not have the strength to endure. That makes a lot of sense to me. Being at Mass with all the other people who believe what I believe and celebrate what I celebrate fills the soul. Together all those people giving Glory to God is uplifting and you know we are there for our mutual celebration of Him. Another person last night put it even more simply, "If you want Him to hang out with you, you need to make time to be with Him". And it is really true. We can say that we talk to God and we pray and we have an individual relationship, but don't you think it is more meaningful when you really take time out of your week for Him rather than just before meals and before bed? We spend time focusing on our relationships with our friends, our parents, our significant others, our kids, our co-workers, why don't we spend more time focusing on our relationship with God?

I have done much reflecting since last night and although I have been making an effort to attend Mass every weekend, it is even more important to me now. I am also making an effort to pray before meals. It is something my family does, but so easily didn't happen when I moved out on my own. I want God to know that he isn't just another task I'm shoving in between work, grad school, committees, and wedding planing. He is a central part of my life and I need to show that through my actions.

*You may have seen the ads on TV and on the radio in December and January for Catholics Come Home. The Church has made an effort to welcome people back who may have been gone for a long time or just a short while. It has been neat to hear about those coming back to the church and being welcomed into the community that I love.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Currently Reading-Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl

I am currently reading Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl by Susan McCorkindale. It is a memoir of a lady who was a marketing exec in NYC and on her husband's whim, they move to a 500 acre farm in the south. It contains hilarious tales of their escapades on the farm, the differences between farm life and city life and adventures with their livestock. They also have two kids who keep the stories interesting. She has a very sarcastic sense of humor....which I love and I have been laughing outloud at some of the stories. It is a super easy read as it is just random ramblings about their experiences and adventures, but very entertaining.

I have been a bad blogger lately, but I thought a quick update on my current bathroom read would count! Oh, and by bathroom read...I mean the book that I keep in the bathroom while I brush my teeth and blow dry and straighten/curl my hair. my hair. That is when I get my best reading done! Have you seen my hair? Between the blow drying in sections, straightening, and curling...I spend quite a bit of time in the bathroom! People always look at me cross-eyed when I say that, but I know my hair pretty well...I don't need to be looking at it to get it done. I suppose now if I have a bad hair will just know I was too engrossed in my book to look up!

I love to read, but there really isn't time in the day anywhere else to do it!

So....does anyone else do it? Do you get your best reading done in the bathroom?? Come on! Admit it!